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After midterm elections, record 12 women to serve as governor in 2023

Maura Healy’s record victory in Massachusetts was historic in more ways than just the fact that she was the nation’s first lesbian governor.

In 2023, the 51-year-old Democrat will also be the 12th woman to simultaneously hold the office of governor in the United States, surpassing the record of nine women set in 2004.

The old record simultaneously serving at the helm as governor was tied in 2007 and 2009.

On Tuesday, the incumbent governors of Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, New Mexico, Michigan and South Dakota were re-elected.

In that order, they are: Republican Kay Ivey, Republican Kim Reynolds, Democrat Laura Kelly, Democrat Janet Mills, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, and Republican Kristi Noem.

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New York Governor Kathy Hochul won a first full term after taking over the top job in 2021 after Andrew Cuomo resigned. In January, she will become the first woman elected governor of the state.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey waves as she arrives to deliver her state of the state address at the Montgomery Capitol on January 11.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly speaks to supporters on election night after calling it a night with the race too close to call November 9, 2022, in Topeka, Kan.  Kelly was declared the winner later that day.
Democratic Governor Janet Mills celebrates her re-election party, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Portland, Maine.  Mills defeated Republican Paul LePage and Independent Sam Hunkler.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (L) gestures next to U.S. President Joe Biden during a rally hosted by the New Mexico Democratic Party at the Ted M. Gallegos Community Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on November 3, 2022.

Besides Massachusetts, three states – Arkansas, Arizona and Oregon – have elected new female governors.

In Arkansas, Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary in the Trump administration, will become the first female head of state after being elected to the post her father, Mike Huckabee, held from 1996 to 2007.

Meanwhile, Arkansas and Massachusetts will also become the first states to have women serving as governors and lieutenant governors simultaneously, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics.

In Arizona and Oregon, votes were still being counted Thursday afternoon, but the candidates in those gubernatorial races are all women. These states are included in record 12.

Democrat Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state, led Republican Kari Lake in Arizona on Thursday morning by a slight margin.

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Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was elected governor of Arkansas on Tuesday, becoming the first woman to lead the state and the highest-ranking Trump administration official in elected office.
Kari Lake walks into the downtown Phoenix Post Office polling center to vote with her children on Nov. 8, 2022.

In Oregon, Democrat Tina Kotek, a former State House speaker and another lesbian gubernatorial candidate, edged out Republican Christine Drazan, a former State House Minority Leader. Meanwhile, independent former state senator Betsy Johnson garnered less than 10% of the vote Thursday morning.

Another lesbian gubernatorial candidate, Tina Kotek of Oregon, could join Healey’s place in history once the votes are tallied. This election was also too close to be called on Thursday.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks to supporters at a campaign event in Queen Creek, Ariz., Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. Lake will face Democrat Katie Hobbs in the November general election.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, with her family behind her, speaks after being re-elected Tuesday night, Nov. 8, 2022, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Sioux Falls.
Governor hopeful Tina Kotek speaks to supporters during an election night for the Oregon Democratic Party at the Hyatt Regency in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.
Gubernatorial hopeful Christine Drazan speaks during an election party Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022 at the Oregon Garden in Silverton, Ore.

Ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections, 2022 set a record for the number of all-female gubernatorial races.

Prior to this year, there had only been four female-vs.-female gubernatorial matchups in all of history, according to the Rutgers Center. CAWP.

But in 2022, 25 women were nominated for governor by Democrats and Republicans, marking another all-time high.

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Contact her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

USA Today

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